Charlie Livingston: a Virtual Big Bend Pioneer
About a year after I started this website, I received an email from a gentleman named Earl. He wrote how years ago, he got lost in Big Bend and nearly froze to death. He explained how he loved this website and Big Bend. Then, Earl began to tell a story about Charlie, Charlie Livingston.
Charlie was an undertaker in the Big Bend area as was his father who started the family business in the early 1900's. He had a love of Big Bend like many of us do and like a few others, wanted to share the park's majesty with others. Charlie had created a collection of photographs of Big Bend and the surrounding areas during the 1930's and 40's. So, how does this relate to Virtual Big Bend? After all, there are a lot of photographers who have photographed the region over the years, so what makes Charlie's collection so special? Color transparecies (commonly called slides) is what makes it special. You see, in Charlie's time, transparencies, much less color transparencies, were not common. Black and white photos printed on a fiber based paper which were usually 5 or 3 inches on each side was the common place. But, Charlie had a more stately vision. He wanted people from far away to see the park, as if they were there. So, Charlie took his black and white transparencies and painstakingly hand painted each transparency in color! When he was finished he had created the first real Virtual Big Bend experience!
Imagine it being 1935 and you live hundreds of miles from Big Bend. Charlie comes to visit with his slides and his homemade slide projector and projects these 3" x 4" slides onto a 10 foot screen and in full color! Wow, what an experience that would have been!
I didn't know Charlie, but I know Charlie's vision. And it is his vision of taking the beauty and majesty of the Big Bend to the people that inspires me to continue his legacy. If Charlie were around today, he may well have created this website himself. This is my homage to Charlie, and thanks to his old friend, Earl, for sharing his story with us.
More info on Charlie can be found here.